LPS Colloquium on Plasma Science & Application featuring Dr. Uri Shumlak



Clark Hall 700


Thermonuclear fusion conditions in a sheared-flow-stabilized Z pinch

Dr. Uri Shumlak
Professor, University of Washington;
Chief Scientist and Co-founder of Zap Energy

Fusion energy concepts aim to heat and confine plasma while maintaining stability. Thermonuclear fusion approaches use a plasma that has relaxed to a local thermodynamic equilibrium, thereby reducing the drive for kinetic microinstabilities. Many confinement configurations use large magnetic field coils to stabilize the plasma. The Z pinch uses no magnetic field coils. The axial plasma current produces the confining magnetic field that balances the plasma pressure. Increasing the current adiabatically compresses the Z-pinch plasma leading to higher density and temperature. While the Z pinch has many attractive features, it generally suffers from macroinstabilities that destroy confinement. The sheared-flow-stabilized (SFS) Z pinch uses axial flows to provide stability, has demonstrated an ability to confine plasmas to fusion conditions without magnetic field coils, and promises a compact fusion device. Experimental results will be presented that demonstrate high performance plasmas and sustained fusion reactions from the FuZE (Fusion Z-pinch Experiment) SFS Z-pinch device. Neutron energy measurements indicate a thermonuclear fusion process that scales consistent with adiabatic compression. High-fidelity numerical simulations suggest a path to reactor-grade plasma conditions. Theoretical scaling studies will be presented of an SFS Z pinch as a high-gain fusion energy source and as a fusion space thruster, which generates high exhaust velocities and high thrust with low system mass. Thermonuclear fusion provides a large energy release per reactant mass and offers a carbon-free energy source for terrestrial power and a solution for rapid space propulsion.

Host: Gennady Shvets

Join us for a reception before the talk from 3:45 until 4:15 p.m.

About the speaker:Uri Shumlak is a professor at the University of Washington and the chief scientist and co-founder of Zap Energy. He received a B.S. from Texas A & M University and a Ph.D. from UC – Berkeley. After finishing his graduate degree, he was a National Research Council postdoctoral fellow at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. He has been a Faculty Scholar at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Erna and Jakob Michael Visiting Professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science. He is an APS Fellow, an IEEE Fellow, and an AIAA Associate Fellow. He has served on numerous professional committees and as president of the University Fusion Association. His research areas are plasma physics, innovative magnetic plasma confinement for fusion energy, space propulsion, and theoretical & computational plasma modeling using multi-species continuum kinetic and 5N-moment multi-fluid descriptions.